Universal Filament Filter and Lubricator

by CreativeTools, published

Universal Filament Filter and Lubricator by CreativeTools Oct 7, 2014
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This small easy-to-print device can protect your filament-based 3D printer from two common issues - dust and friction.

A piece of sponge wipes the filament clean from any dust particles and prevents them clogging the extruder.

By dropping a few drops of common household mineral oil on the sponge, the filament passing through gets lubricated, thus relieving the extruder motor from strain.

Lubrication is specially useful if the filament needs to travel through long tubes before it enters the extruder. But it also helps to reduce the friction inside the extruder below the drive-wheel, where the filament is compressed on its way down to the hot-end.

Related thing

2014-10-27 - Update: A new version of the filament filter is uploaded. It has a smaller exit hole for the filament which prevents the PTFE filament guide tube entering the filter. (new file: Universal filament filter v02 (smaller exit hole).stl)

By Creative Tools

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Print Settings






0.2 mm




3D-print the provided STL file and insert a small piece sponge into the filament filter.
Poke a hole into the sponge and make sure the filament passes through and comes out at the other end.

Soak the sponge with a few drops of mineral oil (as for sewing machines, door hinges or bicycle chains).

Place the filament filter somewhere in between the spool and the extruder. If you have a plastic tube which guides the filament to extruder (such as a bowden solution) make sure you place the filter before the filament enters the tube.

Watch this video for more information http://youtu.be/rMDEsrgzC9M

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I must have used too much, cause it started to leak almost burnt stuff, but not filament, made a real big mess, so now printing a bunch without to try to get it out and start over

mineral oil effect printing?

bcause we know that moisture absorb by the filament make the printing not strong due to bubling

so wonder about mineral oil effect

Thanks for your comment and question. We have tested extensively with different oils and have not noticed any effect on the result. Remember that the sponge only needs to be moist with oil. About five drops will last many prints. Usually we use rapeseed oil.

Will any sponge work and if not where can a I get "sponge wipe"?

Any sponge will work fine. Like the kind that is used for washing the dishes.

Ok thanks

You're welcome :)

Hi, I'm new to 3d printing. Would I want to print the original file for this or the updated 2014-10-27 new version? I would be using it with the Monoprice Select Mini. Thanks!

Thanks for asking. :) Any version of the filament filter will fit the Monoprice Select Mini.

Jul 29, 2016 - Modified Jul 29, 2016

Fantastic Idea, I'm Having a lot of blockage issues and or though I have not printed one it inspired me, I ended up using a ferrite Core pulled the core stuck in a sponge and hey presto, Testing it now on a print of your filter haha!

Amazing. I have had no problems using ABS in my Delta Style (Folgertech Kossel 2020) printer that would require this, but am wondering if I should consider it.

Is this a case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it?", or is there an advantage to using it regardless?

If you can consistently 3D-print parts with no defects, then there is no need to use a filter. But if you every now and then notice skipped layers, annomalies in the filament feed, etc - then this filter is for you. It will also prevent particles to enter the nozzle.

Does the infusion of mineral oil into the filament affect the adhesion of one layer onto the next, or the physical properties of the finished parts?

Thanks for asking about this. We have done extensive testing and found no alteration the part strength.

Do tej pory używałem zwykłej gąbki w której po czasie rozszerzał się otwór.
Nie wpadłem na taki genialny pomysł jak ty :) Teraz druki mają profesjonalne czyszczenie filamentu zaraz przed wejściem do dyszy :)

So far, I have used ordinary sponges which expand during the opening.
There I came up with a brilliant idea as you :) Now prints have a professional cleaning filament just before the entrance to the nozzle :)

Can you explain the purpose of the groove? Will the filament not brake if you bend it?

The groove can be used to secure the filament close to the tip of the filament when the spool is not loaded in the 3D printer. This can be useful for most filaments that can be bent slowly without snapping.

I never considered that the dust might be the cause of clogging. Thank you for this post. I'll print one and set it up tonight.

Apr 10, 2016 - Modified Apr 10, 2016

Did you print this with supports on the inside so the top doesn't sag??

You can 3D print this filament filter on either flat end. The inside walls are inclined in such a way that they will print nicely without support structures.

Hi. Thanks for this excellent thing. I have just printed it and am about to try it on my printer.
You mentioned a new version, which you said you have uploaded as 'Universal filament filter v02 (smaller exit hole).stl'. I can't seem to find this anywhere around here on Thingiverse. Could you offer some guidance on how to get this new file please.

Thank you Pyotr for your comment :) We just realized that the version with smaller exit-hole for the filament was not uploaded yet. Sorry :) We uploaded it now.

Thanks. I'll download it and give it a try. I've been running with the original version for about a day and it's working very nicely. (It will be even better when I find a bit of sponge that isn't already old and disintegrating!)

You are welcome! We are glad you find the filament filter useful.

Why in the hell you design such thin walls for 3dprints? printing thin walls is hard and makes problems for many people, instead simply design thicker walls and they will use infill to consume less PLA.

I used a simple piece of tube before and after printing 2 of this just because of that thin wall I need to design a better one or stick to the old one. and the reason is only ugly prints. Idea was great but not the object itself.

hahahaha you got shot the hell down!! Thats what you get for being rude

Apr 6, 2016 - Modified Apr 6, 2016
CreativeTools - in reply to PaymaanJ

Thank you PaymaanJ for your comments about our filament filter. Please read our comments as follows.

PaymaanJ wrote: Why in the hell you design such thin walls for 3dprints?

  • Because we can. We wanted this filament filter to print fast and consume as little filament as possible. At the thinnest section the filter measures 1 mm in wall-thickness. We chose that to specifically allow for two perimeters. If a 3D printer is not able to make this design in a reliable manner, then there is reason to suspect much more serious problems with the machine. One should consider solving these first, and then proceed to 3D print this filament filter.

PaymaanJ wrote: instead simply design thicker walls and they will use infill to consume less PLA.

  • We do not agree. If you make the walls thicker, than you will at least need one perimeter per side and on top of that the infill. That itself, by definition, will consume more filament. Please consult the print preview of your slicer software to make an accurate comparison.

PaymaanJ wrote: I used a simple piece of tube before

  • Please continue to use your simple tube

PaymaanJ wrote: I need to design a better one or stick to the old one. and the reason is only ugly prints.

  • We will leave that to you to make your own decision on how to proceed. Regarding the ugliness your your 3D prints, we sincerely hope that their esthetics will improve in the future.

PaymaanJ wrote: Idea was great but not the object itself.

  • We assume that you mean our filament filter thingiverse.com/thing:492067. We are sad to hear that you don't appreciate our design. At the time of writing, our design has had 68576 views, 12799 downloads, has been collected 3337 times and shown here as 77 makes. In our office we have a very old 3D printer that has churned out literally thousands of filament filters that we provide to our customers. So in a somewhat odd way, the design has been quite easy to print and has helped countless 3D print users around the world.

The 3D-print team at CreativeTools

Universal Filament Filter and Lubricator

hahahaha he got shot the hell down!! Thats what you get for being rude

I would just like to note, even thought the original comment by PaymaanJ was by some standards rude, he was raising valid points. The response by creative tools I feel was snarky and unprofessional.

No, it was 100% accurate, they are not obligated to provide a certain level of professionalism, they designed a useful product that clearly is well respected and PaymaanJ was rude as hell in his complaints, design one yourself if its so flawed, and stop complaining, CreativeTools shut him down in the way he deserved to be, good for them!

His points weren't valid, but I agree, such a passive-aggressive response was uncalled for.

I loved this response! LMFAO! :D

Mar 25, 2016 - Modified Mar 26, 2016

I made this and used with canola oil (our common cooking oil). It did improve PLA prints reducing bubbles.

However it made ABS filament weak! Every section of filament that had gone trough this did break as easier than PLA. Untouched sections of filament bends normally, there is a clear line. I don't know effect on printed parts, because this is my first ABS roll and I did start with this device on.
I made a test and it took only < 30minutes canola oil to soften abs.

Use machine oil instead of canola oil. Vegetable oils have a low burning point and can end up clogging your printer further.

I tried using this filament filter for my heated bed printer, but the problem I ran into is that the mineral oil caused the filament to not stick to the bed. Did i use too much or should I just not use oil period with a heated bed? I do have a bowden extruder, so the lubrication would be nice, Have you run into this problem before?

Is this usually for PLA only? Most oils appear to have a smoke point below the extrusion temps I use for ABS and Nylon.

I found this useful info.


If looking to use cooking oil, It looks like Safflower or Avocado oil is the way to go with a smoke point of 266 and 271 degrees centigrade respectively.

Experiment and report back!

The filter is good for most filament types due to the following reasons:

  • If lubricated and placed between the spool and the guide tube, it will lubricate and reduce filament drag forces.
  • If lubricated and the sponge is in good condition, it will scrape of dust and particles from the surface, impeding them to enter the extruder.

What oil do you recommend for high temp filaments then? It leaves burned smudges when I print nylon over 250C if I use every oil type I've tried.

Unfortunately we have no information about high-temperature oils but common cooking oil works well for us when we print with PLA and ABS at 230 °C.

what time of oil do you recommend? type? brand name? I looked and several different kinds

3 o'clock oil.


No but seriously, i would use something like ballistol oil. The same oil i use to lubricate the rods with.

Ballistol isn't really oil. It's colloidal Paraffin wax in ethanol. Parrafin wax boils at temperatures of around 250C and above, and you probably don't want that to happen during extrusion.

I just use a clipon ferrite with a bit of sponge in it

Very interesting indeed!
When i purchased my MakerBot Gen. 5 i saw that it had a label of creative tools inside of it!
And when i checked the spool inside i saw that one of these were put on!

Sep 8, 2015 - Modified Sep 10, 2015

After two days of using this filament filter my printrbot simple metal's drive gear broke, perhaps due to too much friction from the filter.

Did the metal drive gear break into two or more pieces? Or maybe did the metal axle of the motor holding the drive gear break? Please clarify.

If the filament filter is used with a small piece of sponge as shown in the Youtube video, the extra axial force applied is vanishingly small and could not cause the metal parts of the extruder to break.

Sep 10, 2015 - Modified Sep 10, 2015
Maraos - in reply to CreativeTools

The metal grub screw (holding onto the stepper motor) broke its threading due to the increase in friction from the filament filter

Do you mean the small thread for the set screw holding the drive gear to the motor shaft "broke"? Can you please supply us with images?

It is a printrbot simple metal, This is not my image but it is the same section. The black screw holding onto the motor shaft has broken its threading possibly due to friction?

Thank you Maraos for the reference image and for explaining this further. The black small setscrew is meant to hold the drive gear firmly on the motor shaft by pressing against the flat surface of the shaft.

Sometimes the screw can become loose with time. This can happen if it was not tightly mounted during assembly. It is also important regularly make sure that all moving parts of the 3D printer are in working condition. Sometimes one has to re-tighten screws and belts.

The friction that our filament filter applies does not affect the condition of this screw since the forces it can take are widely larger than the axial friction. We recommend you to replace the screw with a new one and possibly also the drive wheel. Printrbot will gladly help you with a replacement part if necessary.

is it nessesary to have one of these, i see a lot of people with the filemant roles in the air, and i can understand you want to get rid of the dust. but i have a davinci2.0 so my filemant is in cartridges inside the (almost) locked part of the printer
so do i HAVE to make one of these, i haven't had any problems so far

If you have your filament stored away from the air then dust probably isn't going to be your primary concern. Something else for you to consider is that this is a simple method to lubricate your filament if it needs to go through any sort of tubing or other sources of friction on the way to your print head. If you are already protected from dust, and don't feel like lubrication is necessary then no, you probably don't need one of these. And in either case you do not HAVE to make one of these, it might just extend the life of your machine by a little bit.

What software did you use to model it ?

The CAD software used for making this filament filer is called FreeCAD, which is developed under open source. You can download and try it from http://freecadweb.org. It is a really powerful modelling solution.

I've been using these for a while now!! Very helpful indeed!! I never realised what the grove was for... I've been using it wrong all this time... Also realised I've had it on backwards all this time as well! Haha

Should I ever replace the lubricant?

Hi nuclearions. Sure! You can just add a few more drops of oil when you notice that the sponge no longer lubricates the filament and it feel dry.

Hi Creative Tools, very nice, thank you!

My only concern is the type of oil applied to the filament. I'm new to this but will oil not effect extrusion or create bed adhesion problems? I see that some dip filament into Canola to reduce blockages as well, can this be used instead of mineral oil?

Thanks leoncp for your comment and question. We have tested extensively with different oils and have not noticed any effect on the result. Remember that the sponge only needs to be moist with oil. About five drops will last many prints. Usually we use rapeseed oil.

Would it work well with makerbot 5th gens?

It surely does! :) It makes the extrusion much more reliable!

If you use it with a MakerBot Replicator Generation 5 3D-printer, make sure to lubricate the sponge with a few drops of oil, and place it as close as possible to the spool. One of the purposes is to lubricate the filament before it enters the white translucent filament guide tube.

We recently designed a spool holder for the MakerBot Replicator Mini with a pocket for the filament filter.

MakerBot Replicator Mini Spool Holder

so it will help with clogging, awesome. going to have to try it

Awesome, thanks for the video! Without it, I would have been a little confused (about the sponge, how to get it in and out, etc.). I guess I'm used to thicker sponges!

We're glad the video made things clear. Enjoy the filament filter :)

This comment has been deleted.

Where can I get the version with smaller exit hole?

can you re-size the groove on the side to hold 3 mm filament?

Thanks for your feedback. We just made a groove for 1.75 mm filament because when we bent 3 mm filament at a sharp 90° angle it broke, thus making the groove unnecessary.

Will Gun Oil work okay with this?

Hi drbogger,

Did the gun oil work? Did you have any problems with bed adhesion?
Thanks for sharing your experiences!


That will probably work just fine. :)

What alternative to mineral spirit's could I use? Would WD-40 suffice?

Aug 11, 2016 - Modified Aug 11, 2016
Bushmills - in reply to Bassna

WD-40 is gasolene based - not sure whether that's a great choice to subject synthetic plastic materials to, I think I'd rather use peanut butter :)

Any commonly used household lubricant oil will do fine. Such as used for sewing machines, door hinges, etc. WD-40 would probably be a bit too fluid.

Ah figure's, think all I have around is WD-40. I'll pick up some mineral spirit's then, thanks.

Nov 16, 2014 - Modified Nov 16, 2014

I've made this and it's working great, but when the time comes to replace the sponge I'm not sure if it'll come out easily, or without breaking the piece... Maybe consider adding a threaded cap?

Glad you liked it! To replace the sponge just poke it out from the slotted end with a rough wooden stick like the broken end of a thick matchstick.

This might be a dumb question, but what type of sponge do you use? It seems like the one you use is very light and airy, but the only ones I can find are very dense.

Not dumb at al! :) We use a normal sponge of the kind you would wash a car with or the dishes. You should be able to use any type. Just adjust the amount of sponge to give you a light grip when the filament passes through.

Update: A new version of the filament filter is uploaded. It has a smaller exit hole for the filament which prevents the PTFE filament guide tube entering the filter. (new file: Universal filament filter v02 (smaller exit hole).stl)